Makazole Mapimpi grabbed a hat-trick as South Africa beat World Cup hosts Japan 41-7 on Friday. A victory that avenged the most humiliating defeat in Springbok history two weeks ago.
Two times world champions South Africa, who New Zealand in a titanic Pool B opener on September 21, overpowered the Brave Blossoms this time out to win a one-sided World Cup warm-up played in brutal humidity in Kumagaya, north of Tokyo.
“We did what we wanted to do, especially in the first half. Obviously Japan got better and better as the game went on but we just stuck to our guns and did well to stop them,” said South Africa captain Siya Kolisi after returning to skipper following a lengthy knee fracture.
Just after seven minutes into the game South Africa scored. Cheslin Kolbe dived into the corner before fellow winger Mapimpi ran in two more tries as South Africa went into halftime leading 22-0.
Cajoled by the talismanic Kolisi, the Springboks hasn’t stopped producing monster hits and dominate the set-piece. They spread their advantage when Mapimpi burst clear to complete his hat-trick on 52 minutes.
Kotaro Matsushima pounced on an error to pull a try back on the hour mark, but with Francois Louw yellow-carded and South Africa appearing to wilt in the heat, the visitors conjured up two late tries to give the scoreline a slightly flattering hue.
Kolbe intercepted an errant Yu Tamura pass to sprint 70 metres for his second of the evening before Herschel Jantjies got in on the action to add a sixth try for South Africa just before the buzzer.
“In the last couple of minutes we fought hard with a man down to score two tries,” said Kolisi, the only change to a Springboks side who drew 16-16 with the All Blacks in Wellington six weeks ago on the way to capturing their first Rugby Championship since 2009.
“Japan came back with that try and that gave them motivation,” added the South Africa captain, one of a handful of Boks players involved in the World Cup who suffered that shock defeat in Brighton four years ago.
“The crowd really got behind them and they got more ball in hand. They’re going to be great going forward.”
Japan walked out of the field with lots of things in the minds before they kick off the World Cup against Russia in Tokyo on September 20.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted. But there’s lots of valuable lessons we can learn from that loss and we’ll look to turn the experience into positive energy for the World Cup,” admitted Japan captain Michael Leitch, one of the heroes of that powerful victory in 2015.